Two Jewish Philanthropists Pledge $122 Million for Notre Dame Reconstruction

Brazil's Lily Safra and L'Oreal owner Francoise Bettencourt Meyers' donations account for 17 percent of total amount collected so far to restore Parisian landmark cathedral

A detail of the south transept of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, April 17, 2019.
Stephane de Sakutin/AFP

Two Jewish women have pledged between them $122 million toward the restoration of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, which was ravaged in a fire.

Lily Safra, a Brazilian Jewish philanthropist, said she would give $22 million to fund the restoration efforts of the iconic church, which was badly damaged in a devastating fire on Monday, Correio 24 Horas reported. And Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the French billionaire owner of L’Oreal, pledged another $100 million, according to CBS.

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The two women’s donations account for about 17 percent of the $700 million collected so far for the restoration.

Bettencourt Meyers announced the donation on Twitter, following French President Emmanuel Macron’s call on philanthropists to help collect funds for the operation.

Her father, Andre Bettencourt, wrote numerous articles for two pro-Nazi publications during World War II, one of which was financed by the Nazi government in Germany. Bettencourt Meyers married Jean-Pierre Meyers, a French Jewish businessman descended from a family of rabbis, and converted to Judaism.

Bettencourt Meyers has led and donated to interfaith initiatives connecting Christians and Jews.

Meanwhile, the American Jewish Committee announced on Wednesday that it will donate funds to help repair Notre Dame.

“Whether Catholic or not, Notre Dame Cathedral is an integral part of our shared legacy and soul. It represents centuries of French and European faith, culture, history and imagination,” AJC CEO David Harris said in a statement.

“We share the pain of the French people and Catholics worldwide in watching this landmark house of worship burn,” He added. AJC maintains an office in Paris.